Today, July 4th is for parades and picnics. But 244 years ago, it was a call for independence. Two men who would eventually make Fayette County home, heard that call.
Outside Fayetteville on Hewell Road, two ancient cedars in the Bottoms Family Cemetery guard the grave of one of those men. At 25 years old, before the Declaration of Independence was signed, Virginian, James Waldrop, enlisted on March 12, 1776, as a private in the 6th Virginia Regiment of the Continental Army and served two years. The 1821 Georgia land lottery lured Waldrop here and by 1827 he had settled in Fayette County. At 72, he began drawing his $8 monthly war pension. Waldrop died in 1846.
Down a gravel path off Dividend Drive in Peachtree City, another of Fayette county’s known Revolutionary War veterans, Benjamin Brown, rests in the Brown Family Cemetery. At 24, Brown enlisted on September 17, 1782, to serve as a private in the North Carolina Militia for 18 months before eventually settling in Fayette County. At 73, his yearly war pension was $61.66. Brown died in 1853.
Three local organizations, the James Waldrop Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, the Fayette-Starr’s Mill Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution and the Marquis de Lafayette Chapter Sons of the American Revolution, preserve the memory of these men and all patriots and pay their legacy of freedom forward. Open to lineal descendants of American Revolution patriots, these organizations foster patriotism by supporting veterans, active military and first responders, historic preservation, and programs for local schools.
Daughters of the American Revolution
Fayette-Starr’s Mill Chapter
The Fayette-Starr’s Mill Chapter, organized in 2003, has participated in Revolutionary War patriot grave markings across Georgia and one of its members helps maintain the Brown Family Cemetery where Benjamin Brown is buried.
Charlotta Dunkin, Chapter Regent, followed in the footsteps of her grandmother and great-grandmother who were DAR members. “I inherited an immense amount of family history from my grandmother,” she said. “After retiring from a 38-year career in technology, I wanted to get involved in giving back to our community and the DAR provides that opportunity.”
Descended from patriot Enoch Jewett, who served at the Siege of Boston in 1775 and participated in the Battle of Bunker Hill, Charlotta recognizes that it’s difficult for people to think of patriots as living people. “It is definitely hard to grasp how difficult life was in the 1700s and the hardships they lived through,” she said. “Studying and understanding the history of loss, courage, triumph and achievement our ancestors went through to build our country is essential in understanding how we have become the country we are today.”
For more information, visit www.fayettestarrsmill.georgiastatedar.org.
Daughters of the American Revolution
James Waldrop Chapter
Formed in 2007, the James Waldrop Chapter DAR honors Waldrop by learning about his life and service and caring for the Bottoms Family Cemetery.
Jo Springer, Chapter Regent, said that on July 4th “we should honor this great nation and remember all of the patriots who fought to bring about our liberties We need to keep our history alive for our younger generations and never forget the hard-fought struggle that took place to win our freedoms.”
A retired teacher, Jo encourages parents to read about historical events and visit museums and historical sites with their children and discuss their significance. “Researching their own family history is a great place to start,” she said.
It’s something she’s already done for her granddaughters. “It is important to me to provide the groundwork and research that shows our family pathway back to the Revolutionary War, and I hope they will want to keep that proud tradition.”
For more information, visit www.jameswaldrop.georgiastatedar.org.
Sons of the American Revolution
Marquis de Lafayette Chapter
Named for Fayette County’s namesake, the famous Frenchman who joined the fight for American independence, the Marquis de Lafayette SAR Chapter was founded in 2002.
The chapter’s 90 members are residents of Fayette and surrounding counties. Dressed in period costumes, members often participate in parades, color guards and patriotic observances such as the “Let Freedom Ring” July 4th ceremony at the Fayette County Courthouse.
Other SAR objectives are to recognize the significance of Revolutionary War battles including the 159 battles and skirmishes that occurred in Georgia and to locate and honor every patriot buried in the area.
Walter Reed, Chapter President, said joining the SAR was a great way to honor his patriot ancestors, John Davis and Charles Whitwood, and all Revolutionary War patriots. But he wouldn’t trade places with them. “In some ways I think it would have been a very interesting time as the country was developing, but I think it’s nicer to have all of our modern conveniences.”
For more information, visit www.marquisdeLafayette.org.